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Teaching English in China: Changing self-perception

Chinese teachers of English over two years in intensive fourteen-day professional development workshops. Through the use of ethnographic, grounded theory, and mixed methods, the paper will illuminate the paradigm shift from didactic teaching to a student-centred, active learning environment seen through a socio-cultural linguistic, constructivist lens. In contrasting the unique collectivist, authoritarian cultural context of the Peoples’ Republic of China with the United States’ recognised sense of ethnocentricism, its societal norms and standards, recognition is given to the outsider-insider dialogical and ontological insights with regard to changes in indigenous identity. Pedagogical and methodological practices will be examined in this light. Of all participants in two summers of professional development, it was found that 97.75% reacted favourably to the shift from teacher-centred dispenser of information to an active, student-centred perspective. In the process, Chinese teachers became more confident in their skills and in a dispassionate fashion, compared and contrasted two pedagogical paradigms, and mutative senses of their identity. 2.25% t felt there was little benefit in moving paradigms given their country’s emphasis on test scores.

KEYWORDS: socio-cultural linguistics, active learning, ontology, ethnocentricism, identity, student-centred, teacher-centred

Patricia Williams-Boyd. Professor in the Dpt of Teacher Education, College of Education at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Holds two doctoral degrees, one in Ethnomusicology, the other in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis on community schools, urban education and youth and families in poverty. Has won awards for outstanding teaching and service to the profession in her 28 years in the public school system.

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